By Emily Bialkowski
This Saturday, May 11 letter carriers across the nation will be collecting food at each postal stop for their local food pantries. The event is called Stamp Out Hunger and is in its 21st year of helping hungry families from Compton to Caledonia.
Caledonia’s Officer In Charge, Shirley Gerard, who’s been with the post office for 14 years, says she knows they’ve been participating for “many, many” years. The annual event is something she and her team look forward to, she said. “It’s a great thing if we can help out the community and get food in the food shelf.”
Last year’s drive marked the ninth consecutive year that people donated more than 70 million pounds of food to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive. But, with more than 50 million people, including nearly 17 million children, facing hunger in America, the fight for hunger relief continues.
Semcac Food Shelf Manager Barb Schmitz said the event is quite powerful in terms of providing local aid.
“Like any other food drive it is critical for donations to come in. We’re always needing something. It’s also good timing because, as summer kicks off, kids are going to be home and it gives parents an opportunity to have extra things on hand,” Schmitz said.
To participate in the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, residents are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, pasta, peanut butter, rice or cereal, next to their mailbox prior to the time of regular mail delivery on Saturday, May 11. The nation’s 175,000 letter carriers, representing nearly 1,500 National Association of Letter Carriers branches in more than 10,000 communities, will collect these food donations as they deliver the mail and take them to the food shelf.
We’ve all seen the carriers with their bundles of letters, magazines, newspapers and parcels to tote around, so how do they deal with the sudden influx of donated goods?
Gerard said the secret is retired carriers, who come out for the day to offer assistance. “It works pretty good. We get some retired carriers that help us. Once in awhile there’s a full bag, and then about that time one of the retired carrier comes by and unloads the regular carrier.”
So don’t be shy when setting out your donation. It won’t be left curbside just because it happens to be heavy, bulky or large. Those living in the country can participate, too. Each donation is an opportunity to help a local person or family facing rough times.
“Every year people in the community contribute and we thank the community for it,” Gerard said.